SXSW Review: ‘Tiny Furniture’
Directed by Lena Dunham
Writer and director Lena Dunham plays Aura, the brand new graduate who moves back in with her mother and teenage sister (played by real life mother and sister, Laurie Simmons and Grace Dunham). She reconnects with a childhood friend, lands a hostessing job and handles a pseudo-romantic fling or two. There isn’t a terrible amount of plot here–Dunham is much more interested in exploring Aura’s identity issues and familial relationships than contriving conflict–and what plot there is plays out in a winningly unconventional fashion.
For an indie coming of age picture by a young director, Tiny Furniture is surprisingly unhampered by oppressive quirk or clunky symbolism. The film speeds tidily along, never demanding meaning from moments or prescribing any grand wisdom. Furniture is flush with humor and visual poetry, but the real success is its familiarity. You don’t have to be an upper-class New Yorker to recognize the bond between Simmons and Dunham, and you don’t need to be a college graduate to appreciate Dunham’s awkward fumbling with romance and employment. Scenes that might play as obnoxious under less assured guidance are undercut with an endearing self-consciousness. It’s difficult as a reviewer to laud a film that explores the amorphous, far from dire, problems of the rich and well educated, but this one plays well as a portrait–or confessional–of a young woman in desperate search of a home.